In defense of holiday mania

Go big.

It’s December, which, for those keeping track at home, is our tenth month of the pandemic. Pandemic news continues to be terrible. I am here to recommend a great way to cope with how terrible everything is: just throw yourself into the holidays!

I know, I know, the holidays this year are going to be “different,” much like Thanksgiving. I am most likely not going to be traveling to spend Christmas with my husband’s family, like we usually do. But instead of dwelling on the things we’ll miss out on, I am focusing on going big on Christmas in my own household.

You should know — I am not Christian! (I’m not anything.) But Christmas has become commercialized and secularized enough that I wholeheartedly believe anyone can partake in the season. And it’s also just really fucking fun!!

The day after Thanksgiving, I started the Christmas festivities. We got our fresh Christmas tree from our neighborhood bodega—a lovely perk of Christmas in NYC—and this year, instead of a tiny two-foot-high tree like we usually get, we decided to go bigger and get a five-foot-high tree. (Is there enough room in our tiny apartment for that? Not really, but who cares! It’s kind of covering part of the TV, but we made it work.)

The halls have been decked: every inch of our apartment that can be decorated has been filled with wreaths, flowers, garlands, lights. I’ve already bought presents for several people on my list. For the first time in my life, I am trying to procure something called a “Christmas tree skirt” and have gone on a hunt for cute Christmas tree ornaments from artists and small businesses.

I already made my first batch of Christmas cookies and have like 20 more recipes bookmarked; choosing which ones to make will be the hardest part! The Spotify Christmas Hits playlist has been blasting since the day before Thanksgiving. Christmas movies? I’ve already forced Renan to watch Home Alone (my all time fave), The Family Stone, and Happiest Season, and I have a whole list of Christmas movies to keep us entertained the rest of the month. (Also, it’s not a movie, but of course I already binged all of Dash & Lily.)

I’m fully on my way to being a deranged holiday person, and you know what? I don’t care! I love it! It’s been an excellent way to find some joy in the endless miserable wasteland that is 2020. It’s been fun to create my own holiday traditions.

My recommendation to you: go overboard this year. Get the bigger tree, do more decorations, bake more treats, buy more presents. Leave nothing on the table. Nothing about this year is normal, and the holidays shouldn’t be either.

Ornaments I am obsessed with

Last week on Instagram I asked people where I could find cute Christmas ornaments and got a ton of great recommendations. Some I’m in love with:

  • Craftspring’s NYC-themed felt ornaments, which are handmade by women in Kyrgyzstan. They have a store in Brooklyn if you’re NYC based, but also sell on Etsy!

  • Vintage-style food-themed ornaments from Cody Foster & Co, which you can find in a bunch of places: Food52, Hawkins New York, Amazon. I especially want the breakfast sandwich one but it seems to be sold out everywhere!

  • Target also has a bunch of food-themed ornaments (I may or may not have bought one each of the pizza, taco, and bacon ornaments)

Cookie recipes I bookmarked

I really love Christmas cookies. I do not own fancy equipment like a cookie press or even cookie cutters, nor am I particularly skilled at laborious tasks like frosting and decorating, so the recipes I’ve been eyeing are all pretty simple and not complicated— but still sound delicious.

Lemon tea cakes. Brown butter salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. Italian ricotta cookies. Peanut butter miso cookies. Lemon cream cheese cookies. Chocolate peanut butter swirl cookies. Gingerbread snickerdoodles. Lemon meltaways. Sparkly Christmas cookies. Lemon meringue cookies! Apple crisp cookie cups. Pumpkin drop cookies. Not a cookie, but Chex Christmas Mix (don’t call it cr*ck!). White chocolate dipped peppermint sugar cookies (I made these two Christmases ago and they’re fantastic).

What I’m reading

In praise of becoming a deranged holiday person, Vogue.

My year of making lists, The New Yorker.

Turns out it’s pretty good: aging, The Cut. In praise of getting older!

Deb Perelman is thankful for tacos, The New Yorker. A Smitten Kitchen profile!

Goodbye, blazers, hello, ‘coatigans.’ Women adjust attire to work at home, New York Times.

Pandemic dread has me Instagram shopping nonstop, Zora/Medium. ME TOO.

What if you could outsource your to-do list?, The New Yorker. On the rise of virtual assistants.

How a Brooklyn sisterhood of Black women became national power brokers, NYT.

Sorry to burst your quarantine bubble, The Atlantic. Bad news about your “pod.”

The sadness of the trips not taken, NYT.

Danish hygge is so last year. Say hello to Swedish mys, NYT. Here’s how the Swedes get through long, dark, cold winters.

What I’m cooking

This week I made mussakhan, a delicious Palestinian chicken dish (If you have sumac on hand and aren’t sure what to do with it, this is the dish to make!). Plus: Coconut curry chickpeas with pumpkin and lime. Baked some sour cream and onion biscuits (pro tip: make the biscuits and then make egg sandwiches with them the next morning). And snickerdoodles, because holiday cookie season is upon us.

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